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Santa Monica Reads to Discuss Novel About 1918 Flu Pandemic

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By Lookout Staff

June 21, 20021 -- A timely historical novel about the ravages wrought on a war-battered Ireland by the Great Flu of 1918 is the selection for Santa Monica Reads! 2021.

"The Pull of the Stars" by Irish author Emma Donoghue will be the topic of virtual programs during the 19th annual event, which will take place from June 28 to August 22.

During Santa Monica Reads! -- the longest-running program of its kind in the nation -- community members read and discuss the same book at community wide programs and discussions.

"The Pull of the Stars" -- which takes place over three days in Dublin -- tells the story of three women who "come together to support patients and one another in unexpected ways," according to event organizers.

Jones of the Bay

Donoghue began the novel in October 2018 inspired by the centennial of the Great Flu of 1918 and "her discovery when reading up on the virus that expectant mothers were among the most vulnerable to catching the virus."

"While The Pull of the Stars was released just after the first wave of COVID-19, the novel was written with no knowledge of what lurked on the global horizon," organizers said.

"As COVID-19 began to unfold, Donoghue’s publishers realized how relevant the story was to our current times and pushed the novel ahead of its originally planned release schedule."

Donoghue's latest novel -- whose central characters are a nurse midwife, a volunteer assistant and a real-life woman doctor -- "brings to the fore survival, resilience, family, love, and hope," event organizers said.

Best known for her 2010 novel "Room" -- which she adapted into an Academy Award-nominated screenplay -- Donoghue has "developed a gift for growing compelling stories out of the seeds of true historical incidents and real-life characters."

Her books span various genres, with her 1993 debut "Passions Between Women: British Lesbian Culture 1668-1801" a nonfiction history book that laid the foundation for recurring issues in her work.

Donoghue's work "gives voice to the quieter, often-overlooked
stories of women, as well as exploring the lives of lesbians," organizers said.

Her fiction includes "Slammerkin," "The Wonder," "Frog Music" and "Akin," along with the middle-grade series "The Lotterys." She has also written poems, plays, essays and short stories.

Donoghue will give a virtual author talk on "The Pull of the Stars" Saturday, August 21 at 2 p.m.

For the full schedule and more information about Santa Monica Reads click here

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